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Understanding family as a social institution is crucial to studying societies and social behavior. In any society, the concept of family is tied to culture and to social institutions such as the economy and the education system. However, rules, values, and norms around the concept of the family vary across societies. Within a society, they change over time. Sociologists study family structure, types of families, and kinship bonds. They look at trends in marriage and divorce, as well as how these relate to other social patterns. They seek to understand the social context of family violence. They also analyze how social policy affects families.

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